Stratford woman dies three years after receiving two new lungs

Jim Day
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Melissa MacPhail of Stratford is seen playing with her son Keegan during a healthy period that followed her double lung transplant in late 2010. MacPhail died Friday after her body rejected the lungs and she was unable to get a match in time for a second double lung transplant.

Funeral arrangements for Melissa MacPhail to be announced later

Melissa MacPhail’s new lease on life has sadly ended just three years after a successful double lung transplant.

The single Stratford mother died peacefully Friday surrounded by family at the Toronto General Hospital. She was 35.

Stacey MacPhail says her sister Melissa’s body started to reject the transplanted lungs about one year ago. She had a virus and other complications.

“She was really, really ill,’’ says Stacey.

Melissa was in Toronto since July waiting for her second double lung transplant. She was listed as a priority recipient if and when suitable lungs became available.

“She was right at the top of the list,’’ says Stacey.

Melissa suffered from systemic scleroderma, a disease that causes scarring and thickening of the lung tissues. She spent 10 months living in Toronto in 2010 with her young son Keegan and her mother Ann waiting for a double lung transplant.

Her ordeal was covered closely in The Guardian, including Melissa’s hard won financial assistance from the P.E.I. government.

Then Health and Wellness Minister Carolyn Bertram announced a new reimbursement policy to provide financial assistance to medical travel and medical accommodations to Islanders in need of transplant surgery. The move appeared to come in response to a strong public campaign urging government at the time to help Melissa with her costs.

Stacey adds that her sister made a strong effort before and after her transplant surgery to highlight the need for organ donations.

Melissa enjoyed two good years of much improved health following the double lung transplant that took place in late 2010, says Stacey.

“She felt normal,’’ she says. “She was able to go biking. She was able to go walking with her son. She was able to jump on the trampoline.’’

Stacey says Keegan must now go on without the mother he was all but glued to during his first nine years of life.

“He’s doing OK but he has got a lot to deal with,. The poor little guy: he was with mommy all along.’’

Melissa is survived by her mother Ann as well as siblings Stacey, Clarey, Forbes, Jamie, Charlene, Trevor and Amber. She is predeceased by her father Ronald MacPhail.

The funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Organizations: Toronto General Hospital

Geographic location: Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Donna Temovsky
    January 19, 2014 - 15:13

    Sincerest Sympathy in the loss of your beautiful beloved mother to Keagan, daughter to Ann & sister.... Melissa is now resting in a better place. A place where there is no pain & suffering or tears. She is resting for eternity. She will be missed but never forgotten. I do not know Melissa but feel as though I do. I am a friend of Melissa's friend Rosanne Bosna. Rosanne's heart is broken. May Melissa rest in peace forever. Sincerest Sympathy & Love, Donna & Peter Temovsky

  • Helen Marie Joe
    January 17, 2014 - 10:38

    Melissa MacPhail has the most beautiful spirit I have ever witnessed in my 58 years of living. My husband Don and I spent many months in B.C. enjoying Melissa's spirit on a daily basis. Thank you Melissa. Will think of you with a smile every moment of every day. How could we not? We love you. Helen, Don, Susan & Adam Joe

  • Sad news indeed
    January 15, 2014 - 15:03

    Very sad for Keegan to lose his mother, and condolences to the MacPhail family. Thankfully, despite how this story portrays things, Keegan has a loving father who has always been in his life.

  • Wade Gallant,
    January 15, 2014 - 14:55

    My Prayers go out,to little keagan and all the Family....God Bless!

  • Natalie
    January 15, 2014 - 14:05

    Such sad news. Thoughts & prayers to the family & her son. My deepest condolences during this difficult time.

  • Randy Neill
    January 14, 2014 - 22:57

    Sorry for your lost

  • T. MacLean
    January 14, 2014 - 20:51

    Such a sad loss. I followed Melissa's stories that were published when she was waiting for her transplants. My sympathies to her family and my heart breaks for her son Keegan. God bless all of you!

  • D'Arcy Horton
    January 14, 2014 - 20:48

    Such sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with the family in this difficult time.

  • Mitch Turner
    January 14, 2014 - 16:27

    This is very sad news. I worked with Melissa about 10 years ago and she was such a sweet, caring, happy person. She fought a good fight and its a shame to hear that she lost her battle. My condolences.

  • Lloyd Kerry
    January 14, 2014 - 16:16

    Too sad. Condolences to her family. Hopefully the little extra time she had is some small comfort to her family.

  • David w. Turner
    January 14, 2014 - 15:33

    God bless this family who struggled so hard. Please keep this family in your prayers.

    • tammy macphail
      January 14, 2014 - 19:36

      thanks for your kind words...